Allergic Rhinitis is the result of an allergic reaction in the nose to small airborne particles in the environment called allergens. This reaction causes the nasal passages to become inflamed. Allergic Rhinitis produces symptoms like an itchy, runny nose, sneezing, postnasal drip and blocking of the nose. In many people the eyes are affected too. These symptoms are often thought of as annoying but not serious. However, we now know that allergic rhinitis can significantly affect sleep, quality of life, concentration and performance at work or school.
Allergic Rhinitis is an extremely common problem that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It can begin at any age and tends to persist, although it often waxes and wanes in severity over time.
Environmental allergens can be grouped in to those found indoors and those found outdoors. Indoor allergens would include pet dander, house dust mites, cockroaches and certain moulds. An allergy to an indoor allergen usually causes symptoms throughout the year. Outdoor allergens include grass, tree and weed pollens and some moulds. An allergy to an outdoor allergen may cause symptoms only at certain times of the year. Your exposure to allergens depends on where you live, as well as your home, work/ school environment.
At an allergy consultation the practitioner will take a detailed history about an individual’s main symptoms and environment and use skin prick tests or a blood test to identify the offending allergens.
Allergic rhinitis can, and should, be managed by developing a comprehensive treatment plan. This will include identifying what the offending allergens are and providing advice on their avoidance, providing appropriate medication and in certain individuals by using immunotherapy.